When I did my coaching course, one of the exercises was on Integrity. We started out listing character flaws or behaviours we noticed in people that irritated or bothered us. Of course, that was easy! Just think of all the people that get up your nostril, disappoint you, rub on your last nerve!
So there we were, each of us furiously scribbling every one of our long lists of pet peeves. Our coach was very generous, gave us lots of time to remember every last person that needed to make the list.
Finally, we were all done. Pencils down, looking at the coach expectantly: were we going to build a fire and burn all these evil lists? Read out loud the long list of offences against us? Gleefully malign these wrongdoers?
Nope. Her next instructions were to re-read our list and identify these exact traits in ourselves.
And yet, we discovered, entirely possible. What a shock to find I am just as hard and judgemental and cynical and snobbish and cold and and and …… as the people that made my list.
We can be quick to think we are living with integrity with ourselves and then find that we shun parts of ourselves that are not very nice. We live under the illusion that ‘we aren’t like ______’ when, in fact, we really can be just like them.
Since that day, I have come to learn that this is not a quick fix. Few things really are. It is a long, diligent step in a direction you keep choosing, again and again. And, more and more, I am finding the need to take those daily steps with as much compassion and kindness as I can find for myself. Before I look toward anyone else.
I will only offer what I have to give.